LAHORE - An accountability court on Tuesday extended physical remand of four accused including former LDA DG Ahad Cheema for 14 days in Ashiyana Housing scam case.

NAB officials produced the handcuffed accused before the court under tight security arrangements and contended that important developments took place during the investigation.  However, once again, police officials misbehaved with the reporters and cameramen present there. They did not allow them to cover the scenes and bar them to go near to the courtroom.

Submitting report on investigation regarding the scam, a NAB investigation officer said that two cell phones and a laptop recovered from Ahad Khan Cheema had been sent to Forensic Science Laboratory for its examination. He said Cheema got transferred 32-Kanal land in the name of his brothers, sisters and a cousin. 

The IO said Ashiyana was launched for the general public but not even a single house was built there while mismanagement and corruption caused a huge loss to the national exchequer. Rs 190 million rupees, he said, were allocated for this project but the same amount gone waste. He pleaded the court to give 14-day further remand of the accused for investigation.  NAB Court Judge Syed Najamul Hassan accepted the plea and granted 14-day physical remand of the accused, with directives to the NAB authorities to produce them again on April 17.

It may be mentioned here that the NAB took six persons into custody including former LDA DG Ahad Khan Cheema, Bismillah Engineering Company owner Shahid Shafiq, LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed, Punjab Land Development Company Chief Engineer Col (retd) Arif Majeed, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PLDC Imtiaz Haider and another PLDC official Bilal Qudwai. However, two accused namely Israr Saeed and Arif Majeed were sent to jail on judicial remand last week after a NAB prosecutor said that they had become approvers.

Cheema was arrested for misusing his authority and, with criminal intent, processing and awarding Ashiana-e-lqbal project contract worth Rs14 billion to Lahore CASA Developers, a joint venture a firm which was ineligible for the same. The contract, in connivance with other accused persons, was awarded in violation of PPP Act, 2014.

NAB inquiry further revealed that Bismillah Engineering Services Co (a major shareholder of JV titled Lahore CASA Developers) was a proxy firm working on behalf of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

Cheema allegedly received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanals of land (valuing Rs30.09 million approximately from the owners of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

Government is facing a liquidation loss of about Rs 455 million as the estimate of the construction of Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme has increased manifold due to delay in the project.